Tech takes lead in NCAAs

MILTON -- In the week leading up to the NCAA Championships at their home course, Georgia Tech kept a consistent schedule. Head coach Bruce Heppler let his players sleep in, they'd practice in the morning, break for lunch and tee off at the Capital City Club's Crabapple Course between 1 and 2 p.m.

Entering the final day of stroke play today and sitting in atop the leaderboard, Georgia Tech's first tee time is set for 1:10 p.m. today with California and Texas.

"There was something to that, yeah," Heppler said. "There was a little bit."

Georgia Tech's team survived the afternoon in the first round, shooting 6-under as a team and the Jackets matched that team score again in Wednesday's second round, taking a one-shot lead over top-seeded California. Tech enters today at 12-under par, Cal is 11-under, Texas is 10-under and Alabama is 9-under as a team.

Anders Albertson led the Jackets with a 3-under 67, Ollis Schniederjans shot 2-under, Peachtree Ridge graduate Seth Reeves shot 1-under and Shun Yat Hak was even on the day. Schniederjans is the lowest of the Jackets as 5-under par, still chasing Arizona State's Jon Rahm who followed his record-setting 9-under 61 with a disappointing 72 in Wednesday's afternoon rounds and clings to the individual lead by one stroke at 7-under. He leads Central Florida's Greg Eason and Arkansas' Nicholas Echavarria by one stroke.

"This doesn't mean anything," said Rahm, the Pac-12 freshman of the year. "I am not thinking that I shot 61-72. I am just going to think that I played two good rounds. Tomorrow's another day."

But with Rahm falling back to the field, there are now seven players within three shots heading into the final day of stroke play, including the Georgia Tech sophomore Schniederjans who is one of five players at 5-under.

"I felt very confident coming into this tournament on this course," said Schniederjan, a Harrison graduate. "I came in here trying to win the tournament. I can't control what other guys do. I can come in and shoot 66 tomorrow and win or I can shoot 66 and finish fifth. I just have to play my game and help out my team as much as I can and see what the results are."

The individual champion will be crowned today and the top eight teams advance to this weekend's match play to play for the team title. Team scores after three rounds determine seeding for match play.

"We're just going to have to play smart," Reeves said. "Take advantage of the first 15 holes and try to make some good swings and some pars coming in."

Reeves, who hasn't finished a three-round tournament under par this season, played his first two rounds each 1-under. On Wednesday, he birdied Nos. 2 and 12, both by sinking putts from less than five feet and bogeyed No. 15 before paring the final three, and the course's toughest holes.

"I played really consistent, my short game was good. It was nice for me to not make -- I only had one bogey -- I played pretty consistent and kept myself out of trouble," Reeves said. "I didn't take advantage of the birdies that I had, I could have gone a lot lower. I am not going to be disappointed with an under-par round out here. Two straight under-par rounds for me, that's solid."

Reeves finished his round with a scrambling par on 18. He put his drive under some trees on the left side of the fairway and his pitch-out landed in a fairway bunker. But his sand shot landed within three feet of the pin and he tapped in.

"That was an awesome way to finish," Reeves said. "I felt comfortable and didn't really think about it. My scorer (Brennan Webb) just told me to try to hole it and so that was the last thing in my mind I guess and I almost did that."

Notes: Albany's T.J. Mitchell recovered slightly from his opening day 9-over, shooting a 3-over par 73. The Bulldogs are tied for 20th at 9-over for the tournament. ... The low score of the day was turned in by Arkansas' Echavarria and TCU's Julien Brun. Both shot rounds of 6-under. ... UCLA's Jonathan Garrick was penalized a stroke for slow play on No. 18. He finished 1-over for the day and 4-over for the tournament.